As you may have noticed, Flyover Friday disappeared for a couple weeks. I've been taking a little writing break, but break's over. A few glorious late-spring days -- I've taken to referring to that kind of day as "Wisconolulu" -- have me daydreaming about writing more, untethered by any office or desk, clacking away on my deck. Until then, Irony or Mayo continues apace. Flyover Friday is back.
"The Salted Pig aims for two hot restaurant trends, hits neither," by Ian Froeb for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
During one of my recent weeks off, I happened to see a review of this same restaurant by the other St. Louis critic, Cheryl Baehr at the Riverfront Times. Her take came to the same sad conclusion: no smoke. Froeb fights through this mess of a restaurant admirably.
"The Purple Martin holds great promise in Fox Park," by Cheryl Baehr for the St. Louis Riverfront Times
The "We've lost Mommy" bit is one of the best passages of parental food criticism that I've read, both amusing, sweet, and still illustrative of the food's quality. That problematic lablabi sounds like someone's riffing awkwardly on nicoise, but I admit I'm a little leery of leveling that much (or that type of) criticism of a dish with which the critic has no experience save a Google image search.
"Brendan Sodikoff's new Italian spot enters a crowded field," by Mike Sula for the Chicago Reader
Ah, so this is what Sierra Tishgart was bemoaning at Grub Street NY: the temerity of a restaurateur to name his business whatever combination of letters he chooses, rather than sticking with real words, like "Sierra" and "Tishgart." The octopus sounds as good as Sula found it to be, but I'm not sure how to take his apparent distaste for poutine. (And Mike! It's "cacio e pepe," isn't it?)
"Platte City's Chaz 325 tells no lies about its comfort food," by Charles Ferruzza for the Kansas City Pitch
Oh man. Oh, man. The saga of the onion rings -- which I think I too would have hung the review on, had it been mine -- evokes so much about this restaurant. You don't want to see well-meaning restaurateurs fail, but here's that schadenfreude that comes with reading a really incisive, humorous negative review. Ferruzza kills with as much kindness as one could hope to muster.
"Food, ambience earn Mi Mexico four stars," by Carlos Acevedo for the Des Moines Register
Acevedo needs to stop paying so much attention to diners' ethnicity. It's lazy -- fully admitting that I've done it in the past, too -- and gets a little too close to wobbling over the line into tacky. (And we all know how close Acevedo has wobbled before.) A slight review.
"Flying Hound duplicates Free House Pub success in Fitchburg," by Samara Kalk Derby for the Wisconsin State Journal
Derby shows an unusual amount of restraint in this review, keeping her companions' remarks minimal and limited to accents, not big-point-making. I like the Free House, so I'll be sure to check out the Flying Hound -- and I'm sure I'll have at least a little bit to say about the, ahem, beers.
"A tale of two tacos: Two new Mexican joints join the Cleveland food scene," by Douglas Trattner for the Cleveland Scene
A nice little roundup review of dueling taquerias. I liked Trattner's summation of how different the two places are. Old-school vs. new-school. This is a handy roadmap for Clevelanders looking to satisfy a craving; it answers many questions for inexperienced or curious diners.
"Serving delightful dinners: Zak's Café's winning evening menu," by Amanda Sullivan for Milwaukee's Shepherd Express
Nothing personal against Sullivan, but does anyone else think Milwaukee is poorly served by only having one restaurant critic who is given the proper inches to criticize? I continue to bang this drum, but such a wee review space, often written overly chummily by the stable of food writers, wouldn't do much for me if I lived in Milwaukee.
“Sparkly Omaha shop flaunts divine cupcakes,” by Sarah Baker Hansen for the Omaha World-Herald
Baker Hansen comments on the long run of the cupcake trend in America, but it still feels really weird to read a full-length review of a cupcake-centric baker. Doesn’t really seem like there’s still new ground to be broken here, but it’s a fine review.
“Elevator Brewery & Draught Haus has a few dishes worth trying,” by Jon Christensen for the Columbus Dispatch
I thought this review started out pretty well, but old dogs, new tricks, etc. A whole paragraph on a standard Caesar salad doesn’t say much for the menu at Elevator Brewery, but Christensen doesn’t exactly liven it up, either. And one nonspecific paragraph on the beer all the way at the end? C’mon, man, serve your readers.
“New Fisher Building restaurant is tip-top,” by Noelle Lothamer for Detroit’s Metro Times
When “I didn’t much care for [the cole slaw] on its own, but it worked fine inside my burrito” is more or less a compliment, you know you’re in bizarro fusion land. I think this review could have been held back until the liquor license came through; it would have come off as a little less supportive and a little more critical.
“Mixed menu of Mexican and Italian keeps El Barzon tasty and unique,” by Molly Abraham for the Detroit News
I don’t know, man. A fusion menu is one thing; a dual menu of loosely compatible cuisines is another altogether. If Abraham’s review feels hammered together, I can’t imagine the restaurant’s operation is much more seamless. But hey, who doesn’t like complimentary chips and salsa?
"Short Stack Eatery comes up short," by Andre Darlington for Madison's Isthmus
There's a thing going around in food circles online lately, a snarky "menu" of steps to take to open a trendy restaurant, and Darlington's opening graf is 3/4 full of the same clichés -- not ones he's committing, but ones that Short Stack commits. I'm still game to check this place out, but I'll be sure to consider Andre's words of warning when I do. The phrase "zeitgeist du jour" is a finely redundant, culturally mashed-up, and altogether handy way to describe something that appears to aim more for timeliness than timelessness.